What is Herpes Simplex?
The Herpes Simplex virus produces a variety of infections involving mucous-skin junctions (lips), the central nervous system and the genitals. Herpes is equally common in males and females. It occurs worldwide and is most prevalent among children in lower socioeconomic groups who live in crowded environments. Saliva, stool, urine, skin lesions, and purulent eye exudate are potential sources of infection.
Exposure to the virus at mucosal surfaces or abraded skin permits entry of the virus and initiation of replication in the cells of the skin. Whether or not clinically apparent lesions develop, sufficient viruses remain dormant in the body throughout life and tend to flare up from time to time depending upon the susceptibility of the individual and low resistance. Herpes Simplex infections occur throughout the year. The incubation period ranges from 1- 26 days. Contact with an ulcerative lesion or asymptomatically excreting patients can result in transmissions.
Clinical Features of Herpes Simplex
1. Orofacial Herpes Infection:
Gum infections, pharyngitis and fever boil on the lips are the most frequent clinical manifestations. There may be fever, malaise, body aches, inability to eat, irritability and enlargement of neck lymph nodes, which may last from 3-14 days. Bleeding from the lesions is common.
2. Genital Herpes:
Seen in sexually active young adults. There is at first itching of the genital area, followed by the development of small, painful blisters or ulcers. The person may feel unwell, feverish. Inguinal lymph glands are enlarged.
3. Herpes Encephalitis:
It is a cause of acute sporadic encephalitis. Spread to the brain is via the olfactory nerve of smell within the nostrils. There is an acute onset of fever and thereafter neurological signs of headache, vomiting, neck rigidity and drowsiness.
Management of Herpes Simplex
Herpes infections can be prevented by avoiding direct contact with sores or ulcers of someone who has an active herpes infection – either on the mouth or on the genitals.
Teens who are sexually active should properly use a latex condom during sexual activity, but even condoms will not completely eliminate the risk of spreading genital herpes while there are active lesions. The only surefire way to prevent genital herpes is abstinence.
Pregnant women who have had genital herpes or any type of genital sores or blisters in the past should always tell their obstetricians before delivery. In some cases, other delivery options – like a cesarean section – can prevent HSV2 from being passed to the newborn.
- Orofacial Herpes infection is generally mild.
- Application of acyclovir ointment on the affected
- Oral acyclovir tablets speed up healing.
- Good personal hygiene.
- Consult a doctor.